Birth Story Of The Week – Alice and Jonty

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I had an induced labour: I have an autoimmune disease and had had a previous operation on my diaphragm so late pregnancy was very painful for me. This, coupled with an apparently giant baby (off the charts at 35 weeks) meant that my consultant was keen to induce if I went overdue. Which I did. The pain actually lessened a lot in the last few days before the induction, as the baby dropped down, and I toyed with the idea of cancelling the induction but I was too impatient to meet our baby, and fed up of being pregnant!

I went in for the induction at 6am on the Monday morning. I had a pessary inserted at 8 and was encouraged to walk about. A few flights of stairs later and by 2pm I was experiencing bad period pains. By 4 they had turned into contractions. I carried on walking about and strapped on my tens machine. By 9 I was getting three in ten and I finally got the midwife to agree to examine me (after she’d hooked me up to the monitor to check I actually was contracting – I was!). I was only 2cm dilated so my husband Tom was sent home and told to expect a call in the night.

The contractions got worse and worse so I was examined again in the early hours of the morning but hadn’t progressed. They took the pessary out and I had some pethidine so I could sleep. A couple of hours later I was pacing the corridors again. I really hated labouring on my own, I wished I could have been at home, especially as I was on the main ward, with women whose inductions hadn’t worked or ones who needed their babies monitoring. I felt bad that my labour was progressing well and din’t want to cry out. The hours seems to drag by, I bounced on my ball, used my tens and tried to listen to music – Bonobo worked best for me.

By the morning, I was 4cm but there was no room on labour ward. By this point I was getting worked up. I had a bath, but that meant I had to take the tens off, and I couldn’t get it back up to the level I’d had, so went without. We finally went to labour ward about midday, where I leapt on the gas and air. I had the drip put up and my waters broke. I had an epidural, which was lovely. Until I began to be able to feel one leg. At first I thought this was hilarious but it quickly became that I could feel pain in one leg, then half of contractions, then all my contractions. When they checked my cervix the epidural fell out. I was fully dilated and ready to push. The pain was so intense, I’d gone from contractions at 5cm to fully dilated contractions with no pain in between, and the jump felt massive.

They got another epidural in but I was already pushing by then. The midwife kept putting her finger in up to one knuckle and saying that’s where the head was – but the distance didn’t change and I couldn’t push any more. I felt suddenly very calm as I told them I couldn’t push this baby out. They said he was too far down for a c-section but the doctor would come. I knew I needed help, he’d turned at the last minute and so was back to back and stuck.

The doctor arrived and got out the forceps. By this point the epidural had sunk in again (phew!) so I had one episiotomy, and then another. But Jonty was born in a big tumble, like a lamb on Countryfile and I tore badly. It was ten to 1 on the Wednesday morning. I don’t remember seeing him, although apparently they did put him on me. I can just remember the doctors assessing how much of my anal sphincter was damaged and thinking ‘this really has gone wrong now’. I was losing a lot of blood so they rushed me off the theatre, leaving Tom to have skin to skin with Jonty.

I went into shock apparently so don’t remember much of what happened next but I had a bad third degree tear which they stitched up. After about an hour I was wheeled out, Tom and little Jonty met us in the corridor and I had my first cuddle. He was visibly starving and I felt so dreadful that I hadn’t been able to feed him.

That remains the worst part of it all.

But anyway, he fed well that night and has continued to do so. My recovery was slow and I spent another couple of days in hospital as i kept fainting and had a crazy high pulse rate. The first few months were very painful, and I’ve been left without much pelvic floor strength but I’m having physio. I’ll have a C section next time and it feels a bit sad that I’ll never get the birth I’d hoped for, but having a lovely baby is so worth it. I wish it had gone differently and massively regret being induced but I wasn’t to know. I’m just so lucky that it didn’t affect how I bonded with Jonty, he fed well from the beginning and is now a massive 22lb at 6 months. He’s a superstar and I love being his mama.

Stand And Deliver!

“In an ‘Active Birth’ the mother herself is in control of her body. She moves and changes position freely – she is the birth giver. Whereas in an actively managed birth, all the power is taken from her, her body is controlled and she is a passive patient.” (Janet Balaskas).

A month or two ago we had a student midwife from Ireland observing our team as part of her elective placement. She joined me at a hospital birth for one of my women who was having an induction. As the induction was considered high risk, continuous monitoring was recommended for my woman. We were in a delivery room that looked similar to this.

To optimise maximum space and allow my woman to move around and stay active I did the following.

  • I pushed the bed length ways against the wall and raised it up high
  • I used birth mats and a large bean bag on the floor to create a nest on the floor
  • I turned the lights off and shut the blind and used a small lamp for low level lighting
  • I moved the CTG machine into the corner of the room and set up the telemetry setting so she could mobilise more freely
  • Once I had checked the resustaire I moved it out of the way and covered it in a blanket

During the day whilst caring for my woman in labour my student whispered in my ear that she’d never seen a woman labour so actively. She was use to seeing women on the bed, or lying on their side on the bed. Even when there no epidural on board. She said in the hospital where she trained there where birthing balls and mats but were often kept in the store room and never openly offered to women. She also said that because most the women she had seen were told they had  to get onto the bed, they then often asked for an epidural as it was too painful labouring lying down.

This sort of ‘changing room’ technique I’ve devised is not unusual to my midwifery practice. Active birth was first introduced to me as a first year student midwife 10 years ago. It became something I was so passionate about I even wrote my final year dissertation on the subject ‘Alternative Positions of the Mother in the Second Stage Of Labour’. There have been hundreds of studies written about why staying up right and moving around in labour is more beneficial for the woman. So just to clarify some on the benefits

Benefits of active birth:

  • Shorter, more efficient labour
  • Help the labouring mum to cope with the intensity of contractions
  • Less risk of foetal distress as there is better blood flow to the placenta
  • Working with gravity rather than against it
  • Partners can help to give physical support, helping them to get involved
  • Minimal trauma for mum and baby

And just so you know….. I had an induction with my second baby which meant a lot more monitoring but I still insisted on staying upright, asking for the bed to be raised, for a birthing ball and mats. It can be done, here’s photographic proof! (excuse the bad bra shots)

I often hear women telling me their births stories, and a common theme comes through ‘I had to get on the bed to have monitoring’ or ‘The midwife/doctor need to listen to the baby’s heartbeat so I got on the bed’. There is no rule written in any guideline/hospital policy that says any woman has to be on the bed for monitoring. If it is advised that it is safer to monitor your baby’s heart beat during labour with a CTG machine then ask to stand, lean over the bed, sit on a ball because this is your labour and you know the benefits of staying upright.  Get your birth partner to ask for the bed to moved, for a birthing ball (or take your own in) or for birthing mats to be put down on the floor. Any unnecessary equipment can be moved out of the way to make space for you to be active.

So if you’re pregnant and getting near to your due date, write your birth plan and make sure your birth partner knows all about active birth. There are some great examples of women having active births on labour wards all over the UK. Us midwives know it works and is more beneficial for labour. But maybe sometimes we just need reminding to get off the bed.

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Birth Story Of The Week – Amy and Harry

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Here is my birth story. I had a textbook pregnancy; didn’t suffer with morning sickness, felt great most of the time and loved being pregnant. So I suppose I was due a not so textbook labour. I wrote more over on my blog Baby Breeze.

Thursday 10 July 2014.
11:45pm
I woke up with what I thought was really bad trapped wind! I thought it was one of the signs my body was getting ready for labour to start in a few day’s time.

Friday 11 July 2014.
12:15am
Paul arrived home from work to find me in the bathroom, asking him to help me! I wasn’t sure if it was wind or labour, either way it hurt and not much was happening!

12:15 – 2:25am
Paul went to bed, if it was labour we assumed it would be a while so he’d better get some sleep after an 8 hour shift. I kept going from sitting on the loo, to trying to go back to bed, to walking around the bedroom, to leaning over the bed or bathroom sink! I didn’t know what to do with myself.
In a few of my visits to the loo I had a bowl movement, again I just assumed it was one of the signs my body was getting ready for labour and why I was in so much pain.

2:25am
Finally something happened, I felt/heard a pop then there was a big gush of water, like a water balloon popping (luckily I was on the loo, again!). My waters had broken. This WAS labour.

2:30am
I started timing, what I now knew, were contractions. Paul was telling me to call the birth centre and let them know my waters had broken. With my natal hypnotherapy I didn’t want to go too early. But I was uncomfortable and in pain.

The contractions were about 1 and half minutes apart, lasting 20-30 seconds. After timing for about 5 mins I called the birth centre. The midwife guided me through, deep breathing. I needed to go in to be checked over as my waters had broken.

3:00am
We grabbed the bags, in which I’d put the last minute bits on Thursday. Maybe I knew something was happening earlier in the day. I got dressed and off we went.

3:30am
We arrived at the birth centre. The midwife met us and took us into a birth room to check me over. My blood pressure was good, then the examination. That was easier said than done. Between contractions I somehow managed to lay on the couch; but still not long enough for a proper examination. I moved to a position leaning over the birth pool where I felt I needed to be sick; so yet another trip to the bathroom!

4:00am
I started using the gas and air so the midwife can do a proper examination. The baby was breech. An ambulance was called to take me to hospital. At this point I was leaning over the emptying birth pool :( with Paul holding my hand and helping me through my contractions and giving me water. All I could think was I don’t want to go to hospital, I want the baby here, I don’t want to be in an ambulance, I don’t want to lay on a bed and I knew the baby was coming.

The midwife had a visual check (using a torch!). The midwife made the decision, I wouldn’t be going to hospital, I wouldn’t make it, the baby wanted to come and it would be more dangerous to have the baby in the ambulance than the birth centre. The midwives started to get prepared.

4:16am
Soon after came an overwhelming urge to push, the baby was on its way. The urge took over the feeling of pain and was primal. More midwives came in to help. The baby’s heartbeat needed to be checked…Nothing. A heart stopping moment for Paul and I. But then we heard it, baby was just in a position that made it hard to find, it was normal.

Time to start pushing. I did the initial pushing still in a standing position, not wanting to lay down, knowing it would make my pelvis smaller and pushing harder. Initially I was grunting through the contractions but was told by the midwife to use that energy for a bigger push. It was working, the baby was nearly here. For breech delivery laying down is the best position to be in. This was all explained to me; even though I didn’t want to be laying down I knew it was best for me and the baby. So I moved to the couch with my bum on the edge ready for delivery.

A few pushes later and the bottom was out, a couple more then the legs and torso. I was nearly there, ready to meet our baby, I was still using the gas and air and had Paul holding my hand encouraging me the whole time. The contractions subsided a little with the head still not delivered so I had to have a small episiotomy. The baby was here. But no crying, Paul went to the midwives to check all was ok…Then there was the cry.

4:56am Harry was born.

It wasn’t quite the labour and delivery I was expecting, no time to use natal hypnotherapy, but I have no doubt that helped me stay calm, focused and take the fact Harry was breech in my stride. I listened to my body. Undiagnosed breeches are rare, it’s even rarer to have a midwife delivery, but as a team we did it and I wouldn’t change it. After 5 hours of labour our beautiful baby boy was here. Now to start the next chapter.

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What Did You Name Yours?

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Today Net Mums released the official top baby names from the last 12 months. The list doesn’t surprise me at all, after all I’m probably working in the one profession where I am at the forefront of hearing these names within minutes, often seconds of delivering a baby. During my career I have heard it all when it comes to naming your baby. I’m not going to name and shame but there have been some interesting moments in the delivery room when the new parents have revealed their baby daughter’s name. ‘So how are you spelling that?’ is often my polite answer. You get the idea.

Now I’m no expert at naming babies, I’ve had 2 girls of my own and I do think girls names are much easier than boys names. I hate being put on the spot and I have been asked by new parents to pick between two names for their child. I have also had a baby girl named after me which was a lovely surprise.

So here is my top tips for naming your child

  • ALWAYS consider your child. You might like a certain name because it’s supercool or unique, but remember that it is not you who needs to go through life with this name. Do you really want your child having to explain herself to every single person who needs to write her name? Trust me my name has 10 letters in it. Not much space on the page to fill them all in ,hence why I shortened it.
  • Pregnancy hormones can play havoc with your sense of humour and emotions. Naming your child after the character you saw on TV may not be such a great idea ten years down the line. I once met two sisters called Cagney and Lacey.
  • Consider all possible nicknames and names that rhyme. Kids will always find a way to tease other kids especially when names are involved. The day one boy at school realised that Clemmie rhymed with Flemmy was the day I started calling myself Sarah.
  • Research the meaning of the names you like. You don’t want to realise after you’ve named your baby Claudia, that it actually means lame.
  • Say it out loud. Like lots of times. Say it with your surname, call it across the park (to see if any dogs come running). We never realised how similar my daughters name Marnie sound like Mummy. It still gets confusing.
  • And write it down. Lots of times just like you did when you wrote down your boyfriends name age 16 all over your homework diary. You’ll be surprised how instantly you love it or hate it.
  • Think about the initials especially if you’re using a middle name. I knew someone with the initials BJ. His surname was Madick. Enough said
  • Negotiate with your partner. I worked really hard on my second daughters middle name Violet. I figured as I was pushing our baby out of me I could pretty much call her what I liked. Amazingly it worked.
  • Be careful who you tell. When you’re pregnant people LOVE to ask (guilty) ‘Have you thought of any names?’ And if you choose to reveal a few be prepared for odd looking faces or negative comments. When I was pregnant with my first daughter I told a certain member of the family a girls name I had fallen in love with. The member of the family very quickly made her feelings known about that name. I haven’t quite forgiven her.
  • Never ask your teacher friends their opinion. I have heard countless times ‘Jack is always a naughty boy name’. Also feel sorry for your friends if they’re both teachers. Naming their child must be an impossible task.
  • You don’t have to love your child’s name. As odd as it sounds your child grows into their name and you can’t imagine them being called anything else. Both our girls are often called by their nicknames or their full names.
  • And lastly, once you revealed your child’s name, stick to it. I once knew a couple who changed their sons name when he was 5 months old. It was confusing especially for the baby’s 3 year old brother.

 

Birth Story Of The Week – Maria and Emyrs

Baby Emrys less than a day old Chris and Sonny in their new playpen aka the birthpool Emrys and me 9 months later

“It never even occurred to me that I could give birth to my baby at home until I met my friend Cara when we were pregnant with our first babies. Up until then I was conditioned, as I think many Western women are, to believe that babies were born in hospital. Not so for Cara. She was determined to have her little one at home, as hospitals were a place she feared deeply for various personal reasons. I was impressed by her bravery and positive mindset. And she did it! Her bright and curious daughter entered the world in a pool in her parents’ front room, with Bob Dylan’s ‘Queen Jane Approximately’ trumpeting her arrival. It was perfect.

As for me, I had to have my first baby in hospital. I was scared and had no idea what to expect. I wanted doctors, I wanted beeping machines, and I wanted drugs. Lots and lots of drugs.

My birth story of my first child Sonny, is beautiful because he was born. The midwives looked after me well and my baby boy was delivered safely. All was well. Yet I couldn’t help but feel that it could have been even more special, even more beautiful, perhaps even serene? So when I saw that second stripe appear on the pregnancy test eighteen months ago, I knew that I was going to go for it the second time around. I was going to have a home birth.

This was not a decision I made lightly. My husband and I discussed it at length, and I read every book I could get my hands on, keen to hear the bad stories as well as the good. My midwife was extremely supportive; here in our small seaside town of Bournemouth in the UK, the Maternity Unit is midwife led. They are pro natural birth and encourage particularly second time mothers to consider home births. As I was low risk I was good to go.

We prepared the house for the big day, hired a birthing pool, and even visited a specialist shop for the needs of the elderly to purchase industrial-style bedsheets in case I wanted to have my baby in our bed. We were fully prepared with every eventuality covered. I knew that home births did not always work out, that sometimes women had to be taken to hospital to have their baby. I kept myself informed of all possible outcomes, but tried to remain positive, and believe that I could have the birth I dreamed of.

The day I went into labour, my step-mother came to pick up Sonny. It was half past five on the bright and unseasonably warm October evening. This was it! We said goodbye and I remember thinking, in a few hours-by midnight maybe-our baby would be here, in this house. I would be bathed and tucked up in our bed, nursing my newborn and drinking sweet tea. In our home. I would be committing every little detail of the last hours to memory. My special, unique and perfect birth.

We called the midwife and she came to check me. At about half past seven I was just 2 centimetres dilated. She told me to rest, have a bath and call her when the contractions were closer together, and/or my waters had broken. By midnight nothing had really changed. We went to bed and tried, in vain, to sleep.

Things did not start to pick up until 9 o’clock the next morning. We called the midwife again. This time Janine came and checked me. I was seven centimetres! She got me sorted with some gas and air, and called her colleague Linda. I knew that calling the second midwife meant that the baby was coming. My husband Chris started to fill up the pool, and set the baby’s clothes and towels to warm on the radiator. I got into the pool, and I remember looking at the tiny white babygro, hat and vest, certain that in just a few hours our baby would be here in our home.  As Chris played me my favourite records, I tried to focus my mind on the pain, telling myself that the baby was coming soon and this would be over. But my waters still had not broken.The early autumn sun beat through the window, a beautiful day to bring a new life into the world. My all-time favourite record was played-‘Bob Dylan’s Gospel’-a gift my dad had given my mum in the late ‘60s, before they were married. I remember feeling overwhelmed-I was emotional, I missed my mum, and I was exhausted.

Janine and Linda decided it was time to break my waters and I agreed with the plan. It was gone midday, and my contractions were starting to slow down. After a few painful tries my waters finally broke. Linda left the room and Janine held my hand and looked into my face as she told me quite gently but firmly, that there was meconium in my waters, and that Linda was calling the ambulance. There was a chance that my baby was in distress. We had to go to hospital. It was no longer safe for this birth to happen in our home. My contractions sped up and became more intense. The midwives let me push, making it very clear that myself and the baby would still have to go to the hospital-but he was not ready to come out yet.

The paramedics arrived and I was taken on a stretcher down our garden path and into the ambulance parked in our road. I was so frightened and distressed-how the hell was I going to get to hospital? How the hell was I going to get through the next 20 minutes in the back of an ambulance, which let’s face it, is not much more than a transit van.

The journey was excruciatingly painful. I clung to the gas and air as Janine rubbed my back. I tried to picture the journey to the hospital, feeling every turn around every roundabout, every speed bump. It was the longest journey of my life.

We finally arrived and were taken straight to the delivery room. Janine had to hand me over to another midwife.

“You’re leaving? You can’t stay?” (She did tell me this before we got in the ambulance, but I suppose I was still in denial) More devastation, more tears. Janine assured me that my new midwife, another Chris, was the best. I was in safe hands. Still, I had built up a strong bond with this woman, and I wasn’t ready for her to leave. (In fact, Janine was such a special midwife, she called me a few days later to ask if she could come and visit the baby and me, and talk through what had happened. I was so happy to see her again)

Midwife Chris was the opposite of Janine; she was big, brash and most definitely the boss. She was exactly what I needed. I did everything she said and concentrated as hard as I could. I delivered my baby boy at 4:30pm on the 10th October, 2013 in hospital. He arrived screaming and red-faced, his little fists clenched and trembling, as if in a terrible rage at leaving the warmth and comforting dark of my belly. He was perfect. He was beautiful. Despite the meconium, baby Emrys was healthy, and I was unscathed.

We were left alone; my husband, me and our newest member of the clan. We were in a hospital room, with stiff white sheets and strip lighting. There were no baby clothes warming on the radiator, there was no Bob Dylan on the record player, there was no promise of the comfort of our bed after a shower in our own bathroom. But that was OK. My baby was here, and he was safe. I had got through a long labour and had done most of it at home.

I do not regret trying for a homebirth, and it hasn’t necessarily put me off trying again if we were to have a third child (although my husband would have something to say about it). My home birth did not go as planned, it wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but I look back on the experience fondly and with no regrets. And now nine months later, when I look at my baby boy I can’t help but feel that his birth is such a small part of what will be his story.”

Blog: ohidoliketobe

Let’s Talk About Sex Baby!

Last weekend has been spent celebrating my gorgeous friend’s wedding with all my old school pals in the New Forest. She is the second one of us to tie the knot (after me) and looked just beautiful. The day was perfect in every way and as I type this I think the newly weds have already landed in Dubai for their ‘mini moon’, yup that’s a thing now – 1 honey moon just isn’t enough! As the weekend events has started coming back to me, it got me thinking about marriage, love, sex, babies and what the future means for newly married couples.

You see sex is such a funny old thing isn’t it. We’re still embarrassed about talking about it openly, so much so that when I talk to women postnatally about contraception I don’t know who is blushing more, me or the woman? Often the woman is looking at me like I’m mad and probably thinking ‘I have a new born baby, stitches that still haven’t healed and my breasts are so sore and swollen I feel like a Jersey cow but yes I can’t wait to have sex with my husband’. Am I right?

And it’s pretty silly really, as sex is the reason why you’re pregnant in the first place. I mean if it wasn’t for sex I would be out of a job and the world would be a very strange place.

SO why are we still so prudish about chatting about sex especially after you’ve had a baby? Us girls pretty much tell each other everything about our births but once that baby has left your body no one wants to be the first at the postnatal coffee group to say ‘we tried to have sex last night but I was so dry my partner couldn’t get it in.’ Women want to be seen to be handling it all, a new baby, her postnatal figure, sleep routines, the transition into motherhood so there’s no way anyone would want to confess that they haven’t had sex since their baby was born 8 months ago.

So when is the right time to have sex and what does it really feel like?

calander

The answer is; when you feel ready. That may be when your baby is 5 weeks old or when it’s 5 months old. Only you know your body and how you feel so don’t feel pressured by others or your partner for that matter. By the time you may be thinking about having sex you might have a vague idea when your baby might be asleep for more than 10 minutes preferably in the cot on not in the sling (awkward). Always pick a time when your baby has had a good feed especially if you’re breastfeeding (no one wants a leaky boob whilst their partner is on top) and has a clean nappy. Nothing like killing the moment to change an up-the-back-leaked-all-over-the-clean-babygrow-type-poo.

Unless you’re Tamara Ecclestone your post baby body isn’t going to look how it use to. I remember being horrified when looking down at my stomach whilst in a certain position during sex with my partner after my first baby thinking ‘will it always hang down like that???’  Obviously with a bit of time and work it did eventually look marginally more acceptable but it still wobbles and rolls in 3 places and I’d opt for the ‘spoons’ position rather than on top any day.

sex

For me and the majority of women out there, the first you have postnatal sex is a bit like ,well, the first time you ever had sex – awkward, embarrassing, nerve racking and uncomfortable. You hope it will be over fairly quickly (it often is) and you don’t really want to talk about it ever again.

As one of my friends recently shared with me after her first time,”I think sex after birth is an oxymoron in itself… It’s terrifyingly wonderful. I was petrified of wiping myself after having a wee, let alone having a willy go there!! However, it’s so lovely when you realise it all feels just as amazing and helps to reunite you as a couple.”

Try not to ask your partner if it feels wider, bigger, looser, softer or different during sex. It will put him off and kill the mood. You may feel different but you partner may not even notice. He will just be pleased to be able to have some intimacy with you after such a long break.

“The worst thing was the nerves. I was really tense – Would it hurt? Would he feel my stitches? What if I felt different or it wasn’t enjoyable for either of us? It was like it was my first time all over again! It wasn’t actually that bad or that uncomfortable, I think the fact that I was so tense was the biggest cause of discomfort. After lots of reassurance from my boyfriend and a few more go’s I’ve got my confidence back, have relaxed and am enjoying it much more again” another friend adds.

If you’ve had a c-section your vagina and perineum should feel and look the same as before you were pregnant (lucky you) but you may still feel sore around your scar and your stomach muscles can still feel pretty wounded. A position like ‘spoons’ is probably sensible as it doesn’t put any strain on your tummy.

If you’ve had a vaginal birth obviously make sure your tear is completely healed before embarking on a passionate night in the bedroom. (Usually at your 6 week postnatal check up with your GP you have the opportunity to raise any issues you may have about your perineum and vagina). You may want to even have a look with a mirror before hand and see how things are looking. Don’t be freaked out by this idea, you will be surprised how well the vaginal and perineal tissues heal. I had a small tear with no stitches and honestly I couldn’t see where the tear even was, let alone feel it.  And I have seen lots of women’s vaginas after they’ve had an episiotomy or a 2nd degree tear and again the tissues have healed really well. Getting to know what down there looks like is important for understanding how our bodies work and how well we heal after having babies. Go mother nature!

“I had trouble not only getting in the mood but also with lubricating naturally. My baby was breach and then ended up having to be an emergency c-section after sort of getting whipped out. With body confidence issues aside, I also found various angles of penetration extremely uncomfortable (probably due to the sweeps I had during labour and the fact that I almost managed to give birth naturally) After a few months, I finally got the confidence to do so and after a good long while I finally found a position that was completely comfortable with (on my side, him behind) this meant that I didn’t need to worry about my hideous tummy, but also the angle worked perfectly. It took over a year for things to return to normal but we took it very very slowly and eventually things returned to normal.”

It’s normal for the vagina to feel drier than usual after childbirth which is linked to lower levels of oestrogen in your body compared to when you were pregnant. If you are breastfeeding this may be even lower so using a lubrication such as a KY jelly may help ease this and make sex and oral sex with your partner more enjoyable.

So my top tips to round this awkward over sharing blog post off is:

  • Only have sex when YOU feel ready
  • Choose a time when the baby is fed, clean and asleep
  • If it hurts or feels uncomfortable it’s ok to stop and try again at another time
  • Choose positions which make you feel comfortable so you can enjoy it
  • If wearing a chemise, bra, corset, pair of Spanx in bed makes you feel more confident then go for it!
  • ALWAYS use contraception – even if you are breastfeeding
  • And remember the more pelvic floor exercises you do, the tighter your muscles will be and the less likely you are to wet yourself on a trampoline!

Birth Story Of The Week – Maria, Mickey and Georgie

My first pregnancy was not exactly what I had hoped for – hyperemesis, followed by whooping cough, followed by hip pain, in between two house moves! Despite all this, my husband Michael and I were ecstatic and could not wait for our 1st baby to be born. We took photos of the bump every few weeks, read weekly about its development in the pregnancy book and were delighted to see the little creature on the ultrasound scans.

We went to the NHS antenatal classes and our plan was a hospital water birth with gas and air. I am an A&E doctor and Michael is a nurse, so the hospital is not a scary place! My mum would come over from Greece to help us with the last house move (at 36 weeks!), the birth and the new baby.

The baby was due on the 11th of June and 4 days after that I had what I thought was contractions.  I remember watching the football on TV (Euro 2012) and thinking “this is not bad, I have had period pains worse than this”. I was however quite frustrated that by the next morning they had gone and nothing was happening.  Two days later, on the Sunday, just as I had finished the chicken roast my husband had cooked for us, I felt a sensation I had never felt before and said to Michael and mum: “oh, this does hurt…I think it is starting”. I spent a few hours in the bath with mum timing the contractions while Michael was getting everything ready. We ended up going to hospital, which is a half an hour drive away, 4-5 hours later, at around 11pm, as the contractions grew closer and became quite strong.

When I arrived, I kept dropping down on all fours on the way to the ward, and when the midwife saw me she was positive I would have a quick labour. Unfortunately, I was only 3cm dilated, so went on to get in the bathtub in my room (the pools were both being occupied), still aiming for the “gas and air water birth” I had planned for. I was very happy that my mum had been allowed to stay with me during labour, as well as my husband. They were both very good and supportive in the many hours that followed, as I was moaning in the bath…Eventually, I gave in. I needed more pain killers. I came out of the water and had an injection of Pethidine. After that, it is all a bit vague. I remember pain, pushing and I remember the music list that Michael had made playing in the background (though I only remember 2 songs of the 7+ hours of music that was playing!). At a point Michael was sent out to get a snack as he had not eaten for hours. My mum and Michael were talking to me, though I cannot remember much of what they were saying. I thought I was sleeping a lot, but they later said to me that I was only asleep a few seconds at a time between contractions. I was dreamy and happy despite the pain.

When the midwives changed shifts in the morning I was still pushing but not getting anywhere. They broke my waters in an attempt to help, but still baby would not come. They could touch the head and they were suspicious that the baby had extended the neck instead of flexing it. After 2 more internal examinations that felt worse than the contractions it was decided that baby’s neck was indeed extended and therefore he or she was stuck. In the meantime, I was attached to the monitoring belts,  the baby’s heart was slowing to almost zero with every push and I was losing my contractions as I was so tired…suddenly my room filled with doctors and it was decided I would be taken to theatre for instrumental delivery or C-section. Everybody hustled around me, I was given various drugs, signed various forms and watched my poor mum, with her basic English and therefore basic understanding of what was happening, panicking inside. Then, they whizzed me off to the theatres at around 10.30am.

The spinal anaesthetic was the best thing ever and my pain was gone. I was not scared. I had spent a year of my training anaesthetising people and I was comfortable in the theatre environment. Michael was allowed in. They had 3 attempts at instrumental delivery and at 11.21am my beautiful baby boy was born via C-section, weighing 3.060 kilos (6lbs 12oz). We named him Michael Constantine as planned and we call him Mickey. Though he refused to take to the breast, much to my dismay and despite hours and hours of trying, he has grown into a beautiful boy. He just turned 2 on the 18th of June and he is absolutely lovely.

We had decided from the beginning that we would have our babies close together, but my 2nd positive test took us a bit by surprise. It was only a week after my little boy (then 8 months old) had come out of hospital after having meningitis, and only one month after starting to try to get pregnant. My second pregnancy was not different like everyone assured me.  It was simply worse. This time I even got admitted to hospital for IV rehydration. And the hip was a killer! I had to stop work a week earlier than planned as I could no longer really do my job properly.

The big question of this pregnancy was – elective C-section or an attempt at vaginal delivery? We pondered for weeks. I felt that I should attempt to have the 2nd baby naturally. After all, I was so close to delivering Mickey vaginally before, surely I could do it this time. On the other hand, the info given to me by my midwife said there was a 25% risk of another emergency section if I tried to give birth naturally. That was too high for me. My professional experience did not help either. I had seen how complicated emergency operations and anaesthetics could get and I did not want to end up with a general anaesthetic in the middle of the night. Though my personal experience with the emergency C-section for Mickey was excellent (I had very little pain post-operatively and it all went well from start to finish), I had a fear that it might not be as good this time. Thinking about the whole thing made me so stressed that I decided it was not worth it. I was not going to spend the rest of my pregnancy stressing about the potential of another emergency section. So, elective section it was. I had various appointments with my consultant and her team who discussed the pros and cons with me and accepted my decision. In fact, my consultant said that because I got so close with Mickey and was unable to deliver I was at an increased risk of needing a section again. So, I was relieved that I made that choice.

Georgia Eileen (Georgie) arrived 6 days before her due date, on the 7th of November 2013 at 11.08am weighing 3.27 kilos (7lbs 3oz). That morning, we took my suitcase, got into the car and drove to the hospital. I was a bit more stressed than when I went to hospital in labour. I think that was because there was not much adrenaline going around in my body and I had no contractions to concentrate on. We waited for our turn to go to theatre and then…there she was. She had a perfect fringe when they took her out of my belly, as if she had just been to the hairdresser. She took to the breast immediately at Recovery and is a happy, gorgeous little girl.

I guess what I am trying to put across is that I went into this pregnancy/birth world with a plan – a water birth with minimal drugs. I like a plan. I usually stick to my plans. But it did not happen. Both my births were very medical. But, at the end of the day that did not matter. They were still magical. Two beautiful babies made it into this world in good health and have been developing well since. Sometimes I think that if Mickey had been born in a time before C-sections he might not have made it out at all. I might not have made it. So, I am thankful for modern medicine.

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From Student To Midwife: The First Year

For the past 2 weeks I have had a great student midwife working along side me. Ailish has almost completed her first year into midwifery training and has offered to write a series of blog posts to help answer any questions you might have about starting your training. If you are thinking about becoming a midwife or you’ve already qualified and have forgotten what those 3 years really entailed, these guest posts should help you along on your journey or remind you of how challenging your training was.

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Next week is my last as a first year student midwife. It’s been a long journey getting to this point. The stress, excitement, fear, joy (or any other emotion you could think of) that I’ve experienced over the last year have merged in to a blur and I wouldn’t change it for anything. I’m not saying that it’s been easy, and there have been times I have seriously thought “what am I doing?! Why I am I here?!” but whenever that happens I can step back, take a breath, and realise how lucky I am to be doing something I love.

I’m not one of those people who you encounter at interviews, who put their hands up and declare that they knew they wanted to be a midwife from the age of three. Firstly, because it seems unrealistic that a toddler has the ability to make a valid career choice, and secondly, because it’s not true. At twenty-one years of age I was studying Society and Culture at university, working part time and had possibly less of an idea of what I wanted to do with my life than I did when I was in nursery. Then I fell pregnant and everything changed. I quit university, upped my working hours to full time and desperately tried to get my head around the fact that I was slowly but surely growing a teeny person who would be entirely dependent on me. It was totally overwhelming. My long-term partner was supportive, and I was still living at home with my parents who were amazing throughout the whole pregnancy, but I still approached my due date feeling unprepared and (if I’m honest) completely terrified. I don’t remember a single midwife from my antenatal care – a lovely mentor I have since worked with as a student suggested this was because I hadn’t felt empowered by any of them, and sadly, I agree.

Then in labour I had support from a beautifully kind midwife who changed my perspective entirely. She encouraged without pressure, enabled my independence without deserting me, and created an environment which nurtured the concept that I could birth my baby without fear. Six hours later and 6lb 3oz lighter, I was holding my little boy; still pretty terrified, but more positive and confident than I had felt in the nine months preceding that moment.

Fast forward past nappy changes, sleepless nights, weaning issues and moving to a new flat; I was back at work part time but my heart wasn’t in it. Now don’t get me wrong, I’d been interested in the whole “your baby is the size of a grapefruit” emails as much as the next pregnant lady, but now a hobby which I’d cultivated over nine months became something I wanted to pursue further. I started researching midwifery as a career, using sites like StudentMidwife (www.studentmidwife.net/) and NHS Careers (www.nhscareers.nhs.uk) but they just told me the basics. I applied for work experience placements and got two separate week long assignments full of antenatal clinics, postnatal visits, natural birth and instrumental deliveries – I observed and absorbed it all.

More aware of what I was getting myself in to, and even more sure it was the path I wanted to take, I enrolled on an Access to Nursing course. Working two days a week, studying three days a week and being a mummy 24/7 wasn’t easy. Biology, psychology, health studies, exams, essays, presentations… I could not have got through it without a good support system, passion for what I was doing and huge (no, massive) amounts of gin. I also completed a three day training course as a Doula through Nurturing Birth (www.nurturingbirth.co.uk/) purely as a foundation for research and ideas in to natural childbirth. It was an awesome experience and I met some inspiring people, but it also cemented the fact that I wanted to take the extra step in to midwifery as an undergraduate.

I was accepted in to three out of four universities which I had applied for; choosing which to accept was a personal decision. As a mother, block placement and study (e.g. seven weeks academic block, followed by seven weeks clinical block) did not appeal in terms of childcare or family life. Integrated study (e.g. two days per week at university, 3 days on clinical placement) suited my lifestyle not only for my personal relationships, but for my learning preference. Learning a subject in lecture on a Monday, performing the skill in a clinical lab on a Tuesday, and then applying it all to real-life midwifery the next day works well for me. Choosing a university is difficult for anyone, but for a midwifery student, you have to be slightly more mature (who said boring?!) about your decision. Rather than meticulously working out which student union will meet your musical/drinking/love life requirements, try pondering which hospital you want to train in (busy inner city? Mellow suburban?), how you are going navigate public transport for an early shift at 6.45am or how you’re getting to that home birth when you’re on call at 3am.

I’m making it sound a bit rubbish, aren’t I? It’s brilliant, honestly. On every single interview day I went to for uni, the opening line was “you can still have a social life and be a student midwife!” and it is true, I promise. I have friends training as midwives in numerous other universities and the set up for first year seems pretty standard, so let’s break it down:

First term – going crazy at Fresher’s fortnight, am I right?! Ummmm, no, not really. The first five weeks are 9-5 with a mix of mandatory training, lectures and time in clinical labs learning skills such as abdominal palpations and taking a blood pressure. You can try doing this hungover (quite a few did), but by the third week most of us had settled in to a routine and accepted that this was just not going to be the carefree, waking up at midday, strolling to a one hour lecture existence that had been advertised. Anyway, as a mama to a toddler, it was mainly a case of organising childcare, then arranging back up childcare should your first let you down, and then arranging a back up for your back up JUST IN CASE. Social life wasn’t a priority – by the time we had started integrated study in week six I was happy to come home from a twelve hour shift, neck a stiff cup of green tea and fall asleep whilst reading a good book (Michel Odent or Ina May Gaskin, natch).

Second term – by this point, I was feeling a bit more in control of both my home and professional life. Lectures were interesting, skills labs were becoming more complex and placement was something I looked forward to (most) days. I’ve had shifts where I have met amazing, strong women and been given the chance to input positively in to their experience of pregnancy and childbirth. Mentors I worked with inspired me to be a better student and take advantage of every single learning opportunity. Saying that, I also had shifts where I had to go and have a little cry in the toilet because I felt so overwhelmed and incompetent, and I’ve worked with midwives where our ideals and ways of practice have clashed. It’s such a rollercoaster, and was so important for me to have a supportive partner and friends to sound off on particularly after the bad days, but also after the good ones.

Final term – did I say I felt more in control?! Exams, essays and a whole summer of full time placement rounds off first year. My little boy has both started and finished his first year at nursery and I can count on one hand the number of times I have been available to drop him off or pick him up. I am attempting to cram eight months of biology and medicines management for exams in to a frazzled brain whilst having two essays on the go. My student loan is going down, whilst my responsibility on placement is steadily going up. Friends the same age as me are getting married, travelling the world, buying houses, and are established in their careers. I however, am grunting at my boyfriend, travelling on the 8am train home from my third night shift in a row and establishing the rule that pot noodles are an acceptable dinner to eat from my rented flat.

This week is my last week as a first year student midwife and I can’t wait to start my second. As hard as it has been on me, it has been just as hard, if not harder on my family. I’ve kept going throughout for the one reason that I know, deep-down-in-the-gut-KNOW, that midwifery is what I should be doing with my life. Women’s bodies and minds are astounding – conceiving, growing and birthing new life is an incredible occurrence that I have the privilege of being part of on a daily basis. Training for me is not just about juggling workloads or meeting pass rates – I want to be the type of midwife who could also one day empower a scared new mum and stir up a passion in her to start this same journey. I’ll just remind her to stock up on the ginbeforehand.

Birth Story Of The Week – Lisa and Oscar

‘I’m not a closed book kind of person. Most of my friends would agree (I hope)  that I’m fairly open with them. I think I’m happy to share most things (although I sometimes find it hard, we know that!) However I have been overwhelmed with the ease at which I have been able to share my birth story. Oscars birth was a deeply personal and intimate experience in my life and yet I have been completely open about it, offering up information I would never have dreamt of sharing before I had him. And do you know why? It’s because everyone does it! We seem to wear our birth stories like badges of honour. And whats wrong with that?

So if you’ve heard this already I’m sorry – but here it comes again!

My pregnancy was pretty text book really. I didn’t have morning sickness, although I did spend a few weeks feels nauseous ALL BLOODY DAY! Morning my arse! Anyway that cleared up at 10 weeks, and everything else was pretty standard.

I was under a consultant from day one, partly due to my high BMI, partly due to my epilepsy, so was monitored fairly closely. I never had any problems and the gestational diabetes and larger than average baby everyone kept predicting, never materialised. Take that obstetric generalisations!

It was at a routine midwife appointment at 35 weeks, they noticed that my blood pressure, which had been falling throughout my pregnancy had suddenly shot up. This lead to a week in hospital and much worry about suspected pre-eclampsia and whether this baby would make full term. An NCT friend had been diagnosed with severe pre-eclampsia the week before and had to deliver her baby by C Section at 35 weeks, so I knew all too well how serious this situation could be.

I could write a whole post about this experience, but as this a birth story, I’ll leave that for another day. Suffice to say that after a week of trying, the hospital managed to stabilise my BP with drugs. I practically cheered as we left, with my tiny baby still safely tucked away.

I went home, I tided, I hoovered the ceilings, I slept on the sofa. I had a week of maternity leave and I loved it.

After another week or so I had a routine appointment with my consultant, the wonderful and no nonsense Lesley Roberts. She took one look at my BP and said, “I’m sorry Lisa you can’t go home today”. I burst into tears. I was taken back up to the same ward I’d just escaped, given more meds and resolved to try and get this sorted. When they checked me they said I was no where near ready to give birth, so wouldn’t attempt an induction. However, my BP would just not play ball and kept rising, spiking in the middle of the night, when I was asleep of all things!

I felt so frustrated. This baby was 38 weeks gestation, plenty cooked enough and here I was taking more and more drugs that seemed to do nothing. Eventually, a canny midwife saw just how frustrated I was and took me aside. Quietly, she told me that if an induction was really what I wanted, then the next time I saw the doctor I was to cry. Simple as that. So, I did as she said and do you know, it only bloody worked! It seemed getting emotional worked where being rational had failed. I was given a pessary to start things off.

I wont bore you with the next two days, as very little happened. I got some twinges, like very mild contractions, that then stopped. On day three they decided that if they could break my water I’d be able to start a proper Scyntocinon induction. Only, they didn’t tell me this is what they were doing. I thought it was odd that they gave me a gas and air pipe. Ahh then I knew why! It was the most painful thing I have ever experienced. They were right, he was still really high up and to reach him felt like I was being set on fire. I went into a zone, where I felt like I put myself on a shelf and could only hear every third word being said. It was awful and amazing all at the same time. Then I heard her say no she couldn’t do it, so I took myself of the shelf. Then she said oh hang on and finally I felt a whoosh as my waters broke. Finally we were getting this party started.

I was hooked up to the drip and given an epidural, as induced labour can come on very hard and very fast. Although not in my case. I was there for 24 hours and he moved a centimetere. Seriously! I knew it was looking dodgy when the midwife suggested at 3 in the morning that it was best not to eat anymore. I think we could all see the writing on the wall. The induction I’d cried for had failed. It would be a C section now. I was a tiny bit gutted as I really wanted to go through the whole process we’d talked about at such length in my NCT group, but actually I just wanted this baby with me and my BP to settle down.

At 9am on 2nd April ( yeah I know – I think Oscar hung on for fear of being born on April Fools Day!) it was declared that an emergency section was needed and I was in theatre within 20 minutes. I remember the table I was lying on was at an angle so I felt like I was going to fall off. I remember the anesthetist running ice down my shoulder to see if the spinal block had kicked in yet. I remember Adele and Otis Reading coming on the radio. I remember feeling like I was being jumped up and down on but feeling no pain (weird in the extreme). I remember hearing him cry before I felt them lift him fully clear of me. I remember crying and crying and crying with relief. That he was here, that he was strong and that I’d done it.

They weighed him and gave him to me, but I couldn’t see his face so had to give him to Ben, so I could take a proper look. He was just so beautiful.

Then they took him away for tests and I started to feel sick. I managed to shout out in time and the quick thinking anesthetist whacked some anti emetic in my line. I felt better, but my mouth was unbelievably dry. I was given ice to suck. And then I started to pass in and out of consciousness for about an hour (I think). I was told after I was in there for two hours. I thought I’d been in there less than half that.

Next thing I knew we were back in the delivery suit and beyond happy. All the worry was gone, he was here and he was really strong. Much smaller than I’d expected at 6lb 6oz, but perfect. Although I do recall thinking – blimey hasn’t he got enormous thumbs! He still has today, along with his huge feet!

And that’s my birth story. Obviously I could go on and on. About my time in hospital after the birth, about how my BP practically dropped over night, about the trouble we had with feeding. But I think I’ll leave it there. For now.’ 

mrssavageangel.wordpress.com 

Birth Story Of The Week – Steve, Lorna and Wil

Steve blogs all about his life over at Rainbow Dad and tweets @1Rainbowdad.

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“I really can’t believe that it’s been almost 5 years since our first born, Wil, came into our life. I remember it like it was yesterday. What a day. Changed our life forever.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The excitement started when we found out we were expecting our first child.

Our story begins a bit differently. You see we’re a gay male couple, so it’s not so easy for us. My amazing sister, Lorna,  volunteered to be our surrogate. Something that we will be forever thankful for.

The thrill and joy we felt, when Lorna suprised us with the positive pregnancy test, didn’t diminish throughout her entire pregnancy. What I wasn’t expecting though, was just how scared and fearful I’d be throughout the entire thing. Scared that something would go wrong. Scared that the baby we wanted so much would be hurt. Or worse. Scared that we would lose the child we already loved. I wasn’t used to such an irrational fear. I had always been level headed and optimistic. After all, my head knew that Lorna had already carried two healthy children. Why would it be any different this time? I just couldn’t help it. Never had I wanted something more.

It was odd for us. Lorna lived 2 hours away from us in Sussex, so the time we could spend with her was limited. We made sure though that we attended every pre-natal appointment with her. The first time we heard Wils heart beat will stay with me forever. I’d almost convinced myself for no reason that it wouldn’t be there. Deep inside I think I couldn’t believe that we deserved this opportunity and therefore it was clearly going to end badly. We walked into the room and my heart was in my mouth. All the tension and fear I felt though melted away when we heard his heart beat . Strong and loud. Like a train chugging proudly down a track. I couldn’t help but look at Ivan and cry with relief.

Strangely it didn’t get any easier for the subsequent scans and remainder of Lorna’s pregnancy. There was never anything wrong. We had a strong and healthy baby growing. Every scan, every appointment proved just how silly I was being. I just couldn’t help it.

I must have bugged the he’ll out of her calling all the time and asking how she was. Trouble was as we weren’t with her often so I needed constant updates to feel involved. The scans were amazing. Overwhelming. Unbelievable. I was so proud. Proud of Lorna. Proud of Ivan. Proud of us. We had a 3d scan too in order to see Wil again. It was the most amazing feeling seeing him on that screen.

When we weren’t with Lorna we just spoke endlessly about how it would be when we had our son. At the 20 week scan we found out he was going to a boy. We were so happy. If only for the simple fact that we’d both easily agreed on the name William. But for the life of us couldn’t agree on a girls name. Ivan had some rather odd ideas as to what was a good girls name. So, having a boy saved a hell of a lot of arguing.

The day we got that phone call was overwhelming. Lorna rang us the morning of 10th July 2009. She had been in labour for a while,  but still early stages. Given the distance we had to travel we agreed that we would head over and stay at my Mums which was only 5 minutes from my sister. We got there late afternoon and eagerly awaited a call to say we should head over. Not only was Lorna bravely having our baby, she also decided that she wanted to have him at home. I didn’t have a sister I had a wonder woman. Perhaps she really is an angel.

We’d been waiting very impatiently all afternoon when we got the phone call. Unfortunately the phone call was to say that labour had stopped. Frustrated we decided the only thing we could do was drink wine at my Mums to pass the time. After all, we were going to be parents. Surely it would be one of our last opportunities.

I had drunk enough to feel merry and forget the frustration of labour when the phone rang again. This time it was to say that labour had started again and was going full throttle.

Shit!  I was half pissed. I couldn’t let my sister know I had been so irresponsible. She was selflessly suffering for us while I sat back and drunk. I put on a sober voice and agreed we’d get our heads down and they would call as soon as it seemed imminent. I guiltily put my head to the pillow praying I would sober up in time.

The final call came a couple of hours later. About midnight I guess. Thankfully the adrenaline completely sobered me and we headed straight over. We arrived and Lorna was upstairs. Her house was busy with 2 midwives and the sound of painful screaming. I would like to say I felt guilty, but all I felt was a bubbling excitement at the fact that we would shortly be parents.

We’d agreed with Lorna that we could be there for the birth but not actually in the room. In Lorna’s words she knew what a bitch she was in labour. I was just massively relieved that I wouldn’t be seeing too much of my sister!

We waited nervously downstairs. We were so excited but so scared. I don’t remember what we talked about I just remembered keep looking at each other when her screams broke the silence. We had to move from room to room as Lorna moved around; upstairs, downstairs, bathroom, bedroom. It was endless. I thought they’d said he’d be there any moment. 4 hours passed and it seemed the midwifes were getting worried. They didn’t say anything, just seemed more serious and had more conversations that we couldn’t hear. Lorna was doing so well,  but was clearly getting tired from all the work she was doing on only gas and air.

I didn’t have to say anything to Ivan to know he was as worried as me. That delightful feeling was starting to sit as a knot in my stomach. We moved closer to each other and held each other in silent support. Then the moment came that the midwife told us that they were going to move Lorna to the hospital. She had made no progress for a few hours and was physically drained. Lorna needed assistance that they couldn’t give her at home.

Lorna was on her own in the bedroom whilst the midwives made arrangements for an ambulance on the phone. One of the midwifes went back into the bedroom and I heard a cry of “we’ve got a baby”. In one desperate effort whilst on her own Lorna had managed to deliver our baby. The midwives helped fully deliver him and laid him on her chest before calling us up. I looked on overwhelmed with love and amazement as Ivan cut the cord binding my amazing sister and our precious son William Campbell. We had a kiss and fed him, lost in the amazement of him. He was perfect. A beautiful bundle that was to be the start of our real journey together.

William Campbell was born on 11th July 2009 at 05:09hrs weighing 9lb 6oz. And he was perfect.”

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